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Augustin Nicolas Gilbert (1858 - 1927)

Augustin Nicolas Gilbert (1858-1927) was a French physician.

Famously describing Gilbert’s Syndrome (1901) – the inherited condition of benign intermittent jaundice.

Received his doctorate from the University of Paris, becoming a professor of therapeutics and later of clinical medicine at the Hôpital de Dieu.

He withdrew from public life at the age of 52, lived a hermit’s life as a solitary bachelor surrounded by works of art. Only at his death was it revealed that he had been suffering from an incurable abdominal disease.


Biography
  • Born on February 15, 1858
  • 1880 – Graduated medicine from the University of Paris; interne at the Hôtel-Dieu
  • 1888 – Médecin des hôpitaux; agrégé (1889)
  • 1902 – professor of therapeutics, Hôpital de Dieu
  • 1905 – professor of clinical medicine, Hôpital de Dieu
  • Died on March 4, 1927

Medical Eponyms
Gilbert syndrome (1901)

[other titles include; Meulengracht syndrome; Gilbert-Meulengrach syndrome; Gilbert-Lereboullet syndrome]

Gilbert’s syndrome today is better known as a genetically inherited disorder. It classically follows an autosomal recessive inheritance, caused by a mutation of the UGT1A1 gene. This leads to a relative enzyme deficiency consequently reducing the individuals ability to conjugate bilirubin. Leading to a rise in unconjugated bilirubin, which is pathognomonic. Often this causes a transient mild jaundice usually precipitated by medication, infection or alcohol.

Augustin Gilbert identified key characteristics- a familial component, fundamental symptoms and secondary symptoms

En revanche, le caractère familial, que notre premier travail avait mis en lumière et que nous avons appuyé d’une série de preuves, nous est de plus en plus apparu comme un des traits essentiels de cet état pathologique

Gilbert, 1901

On the other hand, the family character, which our first work had brought to light and which we supported with a series of proofs, appeared to us more and more as one of the essential features of this pathological state

Gilbert, 1901

Fundamental symptoms

Les symptomes fondamentaux sont fournis par l’état du tégument et du sérum, plus rarement par celui des urines, ainsi que par l’état objectif du foie et de la rate

Gilbert, 1901

The fundamental symptoms are furnished by the state of the integument (skin) and the serum, more rarely by that of the urine, as well as by the objective state of the liver and the spleen.

Gilbert, 1901

Secondary symptoms

Les symptomes secondaires, conséculifs à la cholémie familiale, dominent souvent le tableau clinique et attirent l’attention du malade et du médecin. Ils sont des plus variés et permettent de décrire, à la cholémie familiale, des ormes prurigineuse, dyspeplique, neurasthénique, hystérique, rhumalismale, hémorrhagique, rénale, fébrile

Gilbert, 1901

Secondary symptoms, consecutive to familial cholemia, often dominate the clinical picture and attract the attention of the patient and the physician. They are of the most varied and make it possible to describe, in familial cholemia, pruriginous, dyspeptic, neurasthenic, hysterical, rheumatic, hemorrhagic, renal, febrile forms

Gilbert, 1901

Interestingly Gilbert also published that Napoleon I suffered from this syndrome.

Un exemple fameux entre tous nous semble être fourni par Napoléon I et sa famille… les témoins de son arrivée à Sainte-Hélène signalent de même son teint olivâtre. On retrouvait de plus, chez lui, la plupart des symptômes que nous placçons sous la dépendance de la cholémie familiale. C’est ainsi qu’il eut, entre vingt et trente ans, de profonds accès d’hypocondrie; il était à certains moments en proie à des crises dyspeptiques violentes; il avait du prurit, et le diagnostic de gale pourrait bien avoir été erroné; il était sujet aux somnolences; enfin, sa bradycardie trouverait ainsi une explication assez naturelle… nous croyons en avoir dit assez pour justifier, à propos de Napoléon I (cité, d’ailleurs, comme un exemple de tempérament bilieux), ce diagnostic rétrospectif de cholémie simple familiale

Gilbert, 1901

A famous example among all seems to us to be provided by Napoleon I and his family… the witnesses of his arrival in Saint Helena likewise point out his olive complexion. We found, moreover, in him, most of the symptoms which we place under the dependence of familial cholemia. Thus he had, between the ages of twenty and thirty, profound bouts of hypochondria; he was at times a prey to violent dyspeptic attacks; he had pruritus, and the scabies diagnosis may well have been wrong; he was prone to drowsiness; finally, his bradycardia would thus find a fairly natural explanation… we believe that we have said enough to justify, with regard to Napoleon I (cited, moreover, as an example of a bilious temperament), this retrospective diagnosis of simple familial cholemia

Gilbert, 1901


Major Publications

References

Biography

Eponymous terms


Eponym

the person behind the name

Graduated Medicine in 2020 from Queens University Belfast. Interested in Internal Medicine.

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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